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The King’s New Do

by Brett Allen-White, images by Duran Levinson / 03.09.2010

I’m going to write more about aKING’s performance and less about the adventure leading up to, around, and after the show. This is due to my previous article upsetting a fine example of human life whose parents thought it best to name him “Anonymous”. I can only assume it’s Greek.

Nah, screw it.

The Barnyard Theatre is situated in the Willowbridge “lifestyle centre” (shopping mall) in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. It’s not red though, which I’d assumed was a prerequisite for barns.

I’ve been to the venue twice before; once to watch the American post-hardcore band Underoath, and the second time I’m not going to discuss at this moment in time.

Duran, Roger, and I are late. You might be starting to recognise a pattern here. The Allen-White curse.

There are a few people hanging around outside having cigarettes, but the doors are closed, and the bar is open. A nice thing about the Barnyard is their wide selection of beverages. You can get bottles of wine, stiff drinks, or buckets of beers on ice. There is also a little pizzeria. People who drink often like pizza. And taking off their clothes. And dancing on tables. And making huge mistakes.

So with a bucket of beers in one hand and a notebook in the other, I approach the reception desk to sign in for the press area… except there isn’t a staff member to be found. Roger shrugs, and we walk in. The Barnyard might want to up their security.

aKing

“This feels like a corporate gig. What do you do?” asks frontman Laudo, with a grin, directing the question at a table of men in dress shirts and chinos. I don’t think they’re quite sure what he means, but the fact that it’s a sit down show is a little strange for the rest of us.

aKING start their set with “Set Ourselves Up”, and while the song is tight, the atmosphere is a little awkward. I don’t think I’d realised it before, but a big part of a bands live performance is the energy they’re able to feed off from the crowd, and in turn the crowd moves because of a connection they’re feeling with the band.

If you put a bunch of mid-thirties to early-forties financial advisors and their fiancées at picnic tables in front of a live rock ‘n roll band, it’s going to have less of a vibe than a standing floor full of students and twenty-somethings, singing along and stomping their feet. The only other people my age are wearing Ed Hardy shirts and have buzzcuts, and seem more interested in downing their drinks.

Despite this, aKING manage to pull through and as the band members get moving, the crowd starts getting into it. The younger audience stand ups and sings along to “You and I”, and the tannie next to me seems to know all the words to “Heart of a Fool”, which is fine with us because her voice isn’t bad and her no-nonsense looking hubbie is within arms reach across the table.

aKing

Andrew Davenport, the newest member of the band, fits in quite well and puts on a solid performance. I like his haircut too, so I’m sold. It’s similar to mine, which I call “the Shire”, so I guess his can be “the Frodo” and Laudo can have “the Samwise” if he’ll take it?

I’m used to watching aKING at festivals. They’re one of the acts I make sure to watch at each one I’m at. For me, it’s a little weird watching them on a theatre stage, but at the same time it’s quite cool because the backdrop (Mozart?) and lighting make it seem like a real-life music video.

aKING perform two new songs, which I think will be available on an upcoming album, and end off with Laudo performing “Shine Your Light” solo before the band gets back on stage (where did that stage extension come from?) and ends with… um… damn. It’s the country one.

After the show I leave Roger to talk to industry people and hit the bar area with Duran to mingle. We see a girl we know working the merchandise table, and I manage to introduce myself to drummer Jaco’s girlfriend for the hundredth time. If you’d like to meet a hard working musician who hasn’t let fame get to his head, it’s him. Man crush of note.

The end.

aKing

*All images © Duran Levinson.

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